Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Lowe, Robert E.

Second Advisor

Schweizer, Heidi

Third Advisor

Lopez, Francesca


Rooted in slavery, the United States in both law and custom has a long history of adhering to the one drop rule–the stipulation that any amount of African ancestry constitutes an individual as black. Given this history, decidedly mixed race people have been subjected to a number of degrading stereotypes. In examining the three broad themes of the tragic mulatto, racial passing, and racelessness in cinema, this dissertation asks to what extent film representations of mixed race characters have had the capacity to educate audiences beyond stereotypes. Although a number of film scholars and critics have analyzed mixed race characters in American cinema, there is no treatment spanning the last century that comprehensively analyzes each film’s capacity to diminish racism.